Applying an Economic Calculus to Knowledge


Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)

Initiative on the New Economy research grant (2003-2006)

Principal Investigator: Dr. Chun Wei Choo, University of Toronto


Research Objective:

"The objective of this research project is to increase our understanding of how organizations mobilize and leverage their knowledge and information capabilities during times of significant organizational change... such as mergers and acquisitions, privatization, technology disruption, and changes induced by external environmental forces." "Knowledge management is best studied in the context of addressing and solving a set of concrete complex problems." "The study will contribute to our theoretical understanding of knowledge-driven change by developing an empirically grounded model that links knowledge and information management practices to the organizational capacity for learning and adaptation. The study will develop practical recommendations on how to nurture, interface, and integrate formal and informal knowledge and information practices... These recommendations would be of interest to administrators, managers, policy makers, as well as professional staff responsible for... knowledge management initiatives."


Choo CW, Furness C, Paquette S, van den Berg H, Detlor B, Bergeron P, Heaton L. 2006. Working with Information: Information Management and Culture in a Professional Research Organization. Journal of Information Science 32(6): 3-22.


The paper presents a case study of a large Canadian law firm with a distinctive information culture that is vigorously implementing an information management strategy. Our findings suggest that, at least for this organization, information culture trumps information management in its impact on information use outcomes. Thus, the strongly held information values and behaviors in the firm accounted for more than one- third of the variance in information use outcomes. Employees did perceive a high level of information management activity in the firm, although information management played a smaller, perhaps indirect role in explaining information use outcomes. What might organizations do to improve information use? This study suggests that organizations might do well to recognize that, in the hustle and bustle to implement strategies and systems, information values and information culture will always have a defining influence on how people share and use information.